MILWAUKEE (AP) - The police officer fired after fatally shooting a mentally ill man during a struggle in a downtown Milwaukee park received several commendations for his past performance on the job, his personnel records show.
Christopher Manney also was recommended for a merit citation for his restraint during a 2006 encounter with a man who pulled what appeared to be a gun on Manney and another officer. That incident ended peacefully.
Manney was fired by Chief Edward Flynn for failing to follow proper protocol in dealing with someone who appeared to be mentally ill. Manney, who is white, shot Dontre Hamilton, a 31-year-old black man, April 30 after responding to a call of a man sleeping in Red Arrow Park. Manney had attempted to frisk Hamilton, sparking a struggle in which Hamilton grabbed the officer’s baton and struck him with it. Hamilton was shot 14 times, according to an autopsy.
Flynn had praised Manney’s work in the past.
“Congratulations on a job well done!” Flynn wrote to Manney in July 2010. “Your proactive traffic stop resulted in the apprehension of three armed robbery suspects, collection of evidence and recovery of the victim’s property. Keep up the good work.”
Manney was recommended for merit citations three times dating to 2006, according to the documents released to The Associated Press on Wednesday in response to an open records request.
One of those included the 2006 encounter, in which he and another officer were called to a loitering complaint from a security guard at a downtown parking ramp. They encountered a man in a stairwell lying in a blanket. Both officers patted down the man for weapons, the police department report said. The man, who was black, then reached under the blanket, produced what appeared to be a gun and aimed it at Manney, who pushed the suspect’s arm toward the ground and yelled “gun!” The officers arrested the man. The gun turned out to be a replica.
A supervising sergeant recommended Manney and the other officer for a merit citation for “their exactness in executing self-restraint which caused this situation to be resolved without further incident.”
The 115 pages of records do not include performance evaluations, which police say can’t be legally disclosed. The file also included several letters of support for Manney from citizens following the fatal shooting in Red Arrow Park.
Hamilton’s family members and supporters staged a number of demonstrations in Milwaukee in the eight months that passed before Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm decided not to file charges against Manney. The protests were fueled by anger over police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York.
Federal investigators are reviewing the shooting to determine if Manney violated federal civil rights laws.
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